Banking Bureaucracy

Sometimes getting things done in China can be difficult. The number one hurdle may be the language barrier but you will also find that even with fluent Mandarin or a native speaker that getting some things accomplished can be mind-boggling complex , confusing , frustrating , and just plain weird.

Case in point : Activating my China Construction Bank Card so I can use it online.

Not trying to start-up any flame wars here but my American bank card was automatically able to purchase things online. My Chinese bank card however, is not.

This is one of those things that would be nice but just kept getting pushed under the rug. Ahh , it’s okay later, later. Ahh , I’ll just have my friend use her card to buy this for me. You know how it goes.

Finally , almost a year and a half after arriving in Shanghai, I set out to the bank with a mission!

It was Sunday and the main branch by the house was closed so off again on bicycle to find the nearest sub-branch!

Getting to the bank we got our number from the machine and took a seat in the lobby.  The banks here are quite different from the ones at home. My Dad was slightly confused the first time we went into one. Twenty people later we were ready.

In order for me to do anything at a bank, I have to bring my passport. First we had to get a photocopy at the bank then hand it over to the teller. Then I have to partially fill out a big form until informed that’s good enough. Sign here and here and here , oops wait you can’t sign your name like that. You have to do surname first. But we don’t sign like that. Oh ok fine that is okay.

Hand over the card and the fun starts. The teller whips out ,seriously, 10-15 different forms and slips. I have to enter my pin on a machine , and again , again, again, again.

Then the teller does his paperwork. He had 8 different stamps that had to be put in various places with various frequencies on the different papers. How do they know which stamp is which? Why does the big stamp in the back row go on the left corner and middle of sheet #10 . Why does the small blue stamp in the front row go three times on sheet #2. We were there a good 15 minutes while the teller furiously stamped all the sheets, took a break to give me some paper to sign 3 times , stamped some more , and then took a break so I could enter my pin again and again.

After this process was completed we were led to a machine by another bank employee. He proceeded to pop a USB stick into it and I had to again enter my PIN and type information in. After this I had to pop out my SIM card from my phone and he put that in the machine as well. You guessed it , more hilarity and PIN pushing ensued!

Finally after this I was all set-up , I was given the USB drive to take home. Apparently I have to plug-in the USB drive into a computer every single time I want to make a purchase.

Now for the punchline! , this USB stick is incompatible with Apple computers! Badda-Bing! Wham-a-dam!

I can still take it with me to work and use it there but it kinda defeats the purpose of online shopping , ya know , AT HOME.

Anyways, I’m off to Nanjing for an extended 3 day weekend! Never been there before. I’ll be bring pictures and do a write-up when I’m back.



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